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seabass
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Dragonets

Synchiropus_splendidus_1_Luc_Viatour.jpg

Dragonets (especially Mandarins) are very colorful fish, and are sometimes confused with members of the Goby or Blenny families.  They feed almost exclusively on live copepods (although some reef keepers have painstakingly trained their Dragonets to eat frozen food, as a supplement).  They should be housed in a well established aquarium with sand, numerous pods, and large amounts of live rock.  Without an attached (and very productive) pod refugium, Dragonets will only survive long-term in massive reef tanks (at least by our nano standards), or by dosing a significant amount of cultured reef pods on a regular basis.  These fish should only be kept by experienced reef keepers.

 

Ruby Red Dragonet (Synchiropus sycorax)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

Origin: Philippines

Synchiropus_sycorax.jpg

 
Spotted Mandarin (Synchiropus picturatus) a.k.a. Yellow Mandarin Dragonet

Max Size: 4.5"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

Origin: Indonesia

Species Notes: Males may have a more elongated dorsal spine.

Synchiropus_picturatus.jpg

 

Mandarin Goby (Synchiropus splendidus)

Max Size: 5"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

Origin: Philippines

Species Notes: Within this species, there are Red, Green, and Blue Mandarins.

Synchiropus_splendidus.jpg

 

Red Scooter Dragonet (Synchiropus stellatus)

Max Size: 5"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

Origin: Maldives, Sri Lank

Synchiropus_Stellatus.jpg

 

Scooter Blenny (Synchiropus ocellatus)

Max Size: 5"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

Origin: Fiji, Indonesia, Solomon Islands

Scooter_blenny_-_by_BJ_Beggerly.jpg

 

Orange and Black Dragonet (Dactylopus kuiteri)

Max Size: 6"

Minimum Tank Size: 50 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

Origin: Indo-Pacific

Species Notes: Their diet consists of small crustaceans that are present in a well established reef tank with plenty of live rock.  Brine shrimp, bloodworms, glassworms, and small invertebrates should be offered daily to supplement their diet.

Dactylopus_kuiteri_(Orange_and_Black_Dragonet)_-_Dumaguete,_Philippines-Edit.jpg

 

Fingered Dragonet (Dactylopus dactylopus)

Max Size: 1'

Minimum Tank Size: 90 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

Origin: Cebu

Species Notes: Requires large amounts of live rock in which they find their micro-crustacean prey.  Finely chopped seafood can help supplement their diet.

Dactylopus_dactylopus_by_Vincent_C_Chen.jpg

 

Photos by image.png.764b7df6a2818ad7ca0b4ddd2d888742.png

 

Saltwater Fish Index

 

Edited by seabass
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TNSRFR
4 hours ago, seabass said:

Dragonets

800px-Synchiropus_splendidus_2_Luc_Viatour_cropped.png

Dragonets (especially Mandarins) can be some of the more colorful fish, and are sometimes confused with members of the Goby or Blenny families.  They live almost exclusively on live copepods (although some reef keepers have painstakingly trained their Dragonets to eat frozen food).  They should be housed in a well established aquarium with sand, numerous pods, and large amounts of live rock.  Without an attached (and productive) pod refugium, Dragonets will only survive in the largest of reef tanks, or by dosing a significant amount of cultured reef pods daily.  These fish should only be kept by experienced reef keepers.

 

Mandarin Goby (Synchiropus splendidus)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

 

Ruby Red Dragonet (Synchiropus sycorax)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

 

Red Scooter Dragonet (Synchiropus stellatus)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

 

Scooter Blenny (Synchiropus ocellatus)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

Love the dragonet.  I have an ORA blue mandrin who’s is over a year old.  Since I don’t have a refugium, I dose pods monthly and hatch baby brine shrimp for her.   She’s been thriving and happy.  Thanks for the info.

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Snow_Phoenix
11 hours ago, seabass said:

Dragonets

800px-Synchiropus_splendidus_2_Luc_Viatour_cropped.png

Dragonets (especially Mandarins) are very colorful fish, and are sometimes confused with members of the Goby or Blenny families.  They live almost exclusively on live copepods (although some reef keepers have painstakingly trained their Dragonets to eat frozen food).  They should be housed in a well established aquarium with sand, numerous pods, and large amounts of live rock.  Without an attached (and productive) pod refugium, Dragonets will only survive in large reef tanks, or by dosing a significant amount of cultured reef pods on a regular basis.  These fish should only be kept by experienced reef keepers.

 

Mandarin Goby (Synchiropus splendidus)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

 

Ruby Red Dragonet (Synchiropus sycorax)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

 

Red Scooter Dragonet (Synchiropus stellatus)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

 

Scooter Blenny (Synchiropus ocellatus)

Max Size: 3"

Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons

Care level: Difficult

Temperament: Peaceful

Reef Compatible: Yes

This is a really good write up. Thanks for emphasizing that they're not easy fish. 👍

 

Also, quick note - mandarins & scooters (except rubys) can hit 5" in the wild, and even in captivity in certain instances. My male scooter is ~5", and my male spotted is slightly shorter than him. I have seen wild-caught specimens in the store at 5"+ though. These fish really can grow & thrive, but do much better in larger systems, where pods & a working fuge (or constant, manual dosing of pods) is present. Prepared food alone won't do, and multiple feedings will be required a day to keep them healthy. 😊👍

 

Add-On: I remeasured Illaron, my scooter, when he was against the glass (had to be super quick because he's skittish a bit and moves away if I come to close) - he's actually around ~5", not 4.5" as I'd originally written. Couldn't grab a pic because he moved away, but yep, dragonets can get to 5", even in captivity. They will need a fairly large system with a large fuge full of pods & macro though. And frequent daily feedings of live, frozen & pellets (if you can train them onto it). 

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Tamberav

Agree, the male I had for 5 years got to about 4 inches in that time. LA posts some wrong stats sometimes when it comes to size. 

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TNSRFR
50 minutes ago, Snow_Phoenix said:

This is a really good write up. Thanks for emphasizing that they're not easy fish. 👍

 

Also, quick note - mandarins & scooters (except rubys) can hit 5" in the wild, and even in captivity in certain instances. My male scooter is almost 4.5", and my male spotted is slightly shorter than him. I have seen wild-caught specimens in the store at 5"+ though. These fish really can grow & thrive, but do much better in larger systems, where pods & a working fuge (or constant, manual dosing of pods) is present. Prepared food alone won't do, and multiple feedings will be required a day to keep them healthy. 😊👍

Hmm, I hope my girl can live a long and happy life.  I don’t have a large system.  She’s only an inch and a half.  She was 3/4” when I first got her.   

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seabass
2 hours ago, Tamberav said:

LA posts some wrong stats sometimes when it comes to size.

They have typically explained this as, there is a difference between typical maximum size in captivity versus maximum size in the wild.  But I agree with you.  Although it's still one heck of a resource when you think about it.

 

One nice thing is that we can continually update our threads.  Well at least I can update this one.  Tritone would have to update some of the others (which is a little scary to me, as Tritone has only been a member since Wednesday).

 

Anyways, I've changed the statistics to better reflect both of your observations about size.

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Snow_Phoenix

I edited my earlier post - I managed to remeasure my male scooter when he was against the glass for a few seconds (he swam away quite quickly before I could snap a pic with the ruler though - sorry!) and he's around ~5". So yes, dragonets can hit 5" in captivity. I estimated Poseidon, my spotted mandarinfish, will hit 5" by the end of this year as well. Hope this helps. 👍

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Snow_Phoenix

Is there a max. size difference between aquacultured dragonets & wild-caught ones? 🤔

 

I'm curious now. Just wondering if the aquacultured dragonets can also hit 5" in captivity over the years. If anyone out there has observed this, I'd love it if you could provide an update on this thread as well. 👍

 

I'll try to measure my dragonets again by the end of this year to see if there are any changes in size. The one point of interest I've noticed between my mandarin & scooter is that my mandarin is thicker & broader, but shorter. The scooter is not as thick as the mandarin, but longer. His tail fin, especially, is much longer. Dorsal fin size varies from fish to fish. 

 

I've seen male scooters at the LFS with taller & more elaborate patterns/spots/stripes at the store. Same goes for rubys - some of the dorsal fin patterns & lengths vary. 

 

The next time I hit the LFS (when it is safer to step out of the house), and if they have some dragonets in stock, I'll try to take some pics to do & show a comparison on here. 👍

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Snow_Phoenix

3" wild-caught ruby dragonet at the LFS:

 

No photo description available.

 

Unknown species of wild-caught dragonet at around ~6" at the LFS - this one was mind-boggling. There were spikes towards the tail-end section of the fish (we call them 'duri' here), and the tail fin alone was extremely long. Until today, I'm not sure what species of dragonet this is, because it was mislabeled as a scooter, but clearly isn't. No walking legs present either:

 

No photo description available.

 

 

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Dorsal view of a spotted mandarin dragonet versus a scooter dragonet (older pics):

 

 

No photo description available.

 

 

No photo description available.

 

Note the difference in thickness/broadness and overall profile of both fish. Spotted (and blue/green) mandarins appear to have 'broader' skulls and larger gill plates from a dorsal viewpoint. Scooters are more 'leaner'. 

 

Sideview profile differences between a mandarin dragonet & scooter dragonet (older pics):

 

No photo description available.

 

May be an image of crustacean

 

Mandarins are also broader from a sideview, and although both fish have semi-circular tails when fanned open, a scooter's tail is usually *slightly longer. 

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Almost ~6" male wild-caught mandy (this is one of the largest ones I have seen here so far, but sadly, most of these 'giant' fish don't last and are unsuitable for captivity - avoid the extremely large ones) :

 

No photo description available.

 

Potato-quality pics, but here's a size comparison of the giant mandy with my spotted mandy:

 

No photo description available.

 

No photo description available.

 

 

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Truly sorry about the bad-quality pics, guys. I'll try to share a bit about my observations regarding my scooter pair - back when my female was still around, and they were spawning very regularly. There were a lot of interesting things to take note about their spawning cycle - from their courtship up until they discharge sperm & eggs in the water column. The fish changing colors (a bit) were the best part. 🙂 

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I recently acquired a ruby dragonet specimen that is slightly over 3"+. This specimen has been in captivity at my LFS for approx. ~1 year, and usually rubys that arrive at the store are <2", although there have been exceptions from time to time. 

 

So I *presume* this particular fish has indeed grown in captivity, although I will have to double confirm it with my LFS manager. In the meantime, *if this fish can successfully adapt to my tank, I'll keep tabs on its growth rate and increase in length (if it even can grow bigger - it *might not). Will keep monitoring & measuring its growth on a bimonthly basis.

 

Here's a quick comparison pic between the new ruby and my established male spotted which is around ~4.5" :

 

 

20210730_150414.thumb.jpg.4c43f58345ff46b504ef4403da8acf93.jpg

 

Also, another point of interest with this particular ruby - it's dorsal fin appears to be more elongated than usual. It's folded in the pic above, but you can see that the fin literally extends *almost all the way down to the start of the tail region, which I find unusual. I've only seen the dorsal fin flare quickly once - markings are standard from what is seen of most ruby males. 

 

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Snow_Phoenix

Psst... @seabass , can you also include the spotted mandarin dragonet (Synchiropus picturatus) in the dragonet index up top as well? 🙂

 

Another dragonet of interest is the Fingered Dragonet (Dactylopus dactylopus), although this species can hit 12" and will require an extremely large & established system (preferably anything above 90G). <--- Should only be kept by the advanced aquarist. 

 

Kuiter's dragonet (Dactylopus kuiteri) are in the same category, but they only max out at 6". Here's a quick link to them:

 

http://www.wildsingapore.com/wildfacts/vertebrates/fish/callionymidae/dactylopus.htm

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Snow_Phoenix

Hi @seabass - spotted mandys can hit 4.5" in captive settings, so you might want to tweak the max. size section in the opening post. 😉

 

Mine is already ~4.5", but I have a feeling he can hit 5" by the end of this year. I'll keep you updated. 👍

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No photo description available.

 

^Quick repost. I did a lot of digging because I wanted to know more or less what type of dragonet this was. There are actually a lot of species of dragonets available in certain parts of the world, although most of them come from the Indo-Pacific region. I think...this might be a dragonet from the family Callionymidae, which is mostly located in the Indo-Pac region. If you narrow it down to location alone, this was most likely a Mosaic Dragonet (Callionymus enneactis) :-

 

http://www.wildsingapore.com/wildfacts/vertebrates/fish/callionymidae/mosaic.htm

 

They seem to be fairly common and are excellent at camouflage. I think this specimen was accidently caught because at a passing glance, it does look like a scooter unless you take a closer look at notice the differences in the tail length (and spikes), saddled markings and overall *slightly streamlined body shape. 

 

I'm not sure if this specimen is still in the frag tank at my LFS because this pic was taken years ago. Most likely it has perished there - or even has been sold off. But once things get back under control and the lockdown restrictions ease, I'll take a trip to my primary LFS to see *if it might still be there, somehow lurking under all the corals (most likely no). I don't think my store manager or the workers might recall it either, because they have had a lot of fish come & go since then too. Still, I'm curious, so might as well check and take more pics of it, if I'm lucky enough to spot it again and *if it's still alive somehow. 

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